Safeco saga creates plenty of questions


In July 2006, the city of Lake Oswego purchased the Safeco property on Kruse Way for $20 million to develop a community center. In order to purchase the property, the city council suspended an existing city policy prohibiting the use of more than 25 percent of property tax fund balance reserves to purchase real estate. They then purchased the property ignoring the city's own independent survey and citizen input, and later re-financed the purchase with a line of credit loan. In October, the city's project team presented its preliminary plan for the community center. It included an athletic center, three swim pools, replacement library, adult community center, offices for Parks and Rec staff and 'gathering places.' Estimated project cost: $100 million. In March 2007, because of citizen concern about high costs, the project team presented a 'refined' plan. Estimated project cost (including replacement library): $102 million. The 'final' proposal may change this projection but is not due until July 2007. The council has delayed the vote on the general obligation bonds until November 2008. By that time the city will have spent over $4 million in interest, consulting fees, lost property taxes, wages and other property support costs.

We don't want it

Campbell Delong survey of 400 Lake Oswego residents taken in February 2005 showed public support for a $27 million community center 'lukewarm at best' with 45 percent not supportive and 36 percent supportive.1

City will not authorize any new independent survey for a community center on the Safeco property.

We don't need it

There are many other alternatives for athletics and swimming already available.2

We already have an excellent library, which has won national awards.

We already have a fine adult community center.3

There is office space available for rent for the Parks and Rec department at much less cost.

Between churches, schools and meeting spaces for rent, there are many alternative community 'gathering places.'

We can't afford it

City overpaid for the Safeco property by as much as $3.5 million. City paid $225/square foot. The market rate for comparable single-user office facilities is $185/square foot.4

City will spend more than $4 million in expenses before the project is voted on.5

Tax impact to the citizens of Lake Oswego will be substantial. Average taxpayer with assessed value (AV) of $350,000 will pay $615 more in taxes for 20 years, or $12,300 over that time.6

Tax impact to Lake Oswego businesses will be equally substantial. The same rates apply to commercial real estate AVs. Commercial real estate having an AV of $5 million will pay $8,800 additional tax for 20 years, or $176,000 over that period.7

People who rent homes, apartments or offices will also pay the increased taxes as their landlords increase rent to pay for their increases in taxes.

Citizens will have unavoidable major funding burdens in the lake interceptor sewer replacement estimated to cost at least $90 million and water utility improvement project estimated at $73 million.8

How can you help?

Spread the word about this to your Lake Oswego friends, neighbors, and relatives.

Volunteer to help: or call Bob Harding at 503 699-6296

Sign the petition and vote for its passage this fall.


1 Campbell Delong Resources, Inc. survey conducted for city of Lake Oswego, Feb. 2005

2 Athletic or exercise clubs-Club Sport, 24 Hour Fitness, Bally, Trainer's, Curves, too many to count. Swim clubs or pools - Club Sport (Tualatin), 24 Hour Fitness (Tualatin), Bally (Wilsonville), MAC, YWCA, Lake Oswego School District pool

3 Lake Oswego Adult Community Center, 505 SW G Ave., Lake Oswego

4 According to the city's appraisal firm PGP Valuation, Inc.

5 Estimates in millions: interest $2.658, consulting $.313, lost property taxes $.358, salaries $.700, building modifications for Parks and Recreation staff $.245. Total $4.3 million

6 City of Lake Oswego Finance Department

7 Clackamas County Assessor's Office

8 Lake Oswego Review, April 2007

Gordon Umaki is a resident of Lake Oswego.